The UK government said on Wednesday that Ofcom will be given the power to regulate social media platforms in order to create a safer online environment.
In an attempt to achieve the government’s pledge to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online, Ofcom will be given new powers to ensure users are protected.
As social media platforms such as Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Instagram and Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) become increasingly popular among young people, the move aims to protect children and vulnerable people in online environments.
“We will work with the Government to help ensure that regulation provides effective protection for people online and, if appointed, will consider what voluntary steps can be taken in advance of legislation,” Jonathan Oxley, Ofcom’s interim Chief Executive, responded to the news.
Interacting with one another is largely a positive experience, but there are also many dangerous aspects of the internet which put users at risk.
The watchdog will help protect users from harmful and illegal online content, such as child abuse.
“While the internet can be used to connect people and drive innovation, we know it can also be a hiding place for criminals, including paedophiles, to cause immense harm,” Home Secretary Priti Patel commented.
“It is incumbent on tech firms to balance issues of privacy and technological advances with child protection. That’s why it is right that we have a strong regulator to ensure social media firms fulfil their vital responsibility to vulnerable users,” Priti Patel continued.
Meanwhile, the Chief Executive of the charity Barnardo’s, Javed Khan, also commented on the news: “Children face growing risks online, including cyber-bullying, sexual grooming, and exposure to self-harm forums. Two thirds of the vulnerable children supported through our sexual exploitation services were groomed online before meeting their abuser in person.”
“We cannot expect children to protect themselves. Instead we need a regulator to act without delay. To do so, it will need the necessary powers to carry out work effectively and to hold tech companies to account,” Javed Khan said.